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Contamination tests planned at Malibu school after students are moved

October 09, 2013|By Matt Stevens

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has hired a firm to test for contaminants at one of its middle schools after teachers complained of persistent health issues and students were moved to other classrooms.

Supt. Sandra Lyon said the district is working with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to conduct a health survey for staff members and provide informational meetings.

Lyon told The Times preliminary test results indicated mold was discovered in one patch of carpet due to a leaking refrigerator, but otherwise the main building in question was deemed clear.

The district has retained a firm that will plan how to conduct further tests, Lyon said.

“We hear your concerns, we want to make good evidence-based decisions,” she said, “and so we want to retain experts to make sure we’ve given the community information that this is a safe site.”  

Lyon was responding to questions from parents about the district’s level of transparency at a meeting Tuesday.

She said she became aware of teachers’ health concerns days before a parent raised the issue last week at a Board of Education meeting. Lyon apologized for “a lack of communication and a fear created in the community.”

School officials said they are relocating students in 11 Malibu Middle School classrooms after three teachers were diagnosed with cancer this year and other teachers complained of persistent migraine headaches, triggering concerns among employees that the building might be contaminated.

The decision to relocate the students came after teachers banded together to inform the district that several staff members working in the same set of buildings had recently been diagnosed with health problems.

Malibu Middle School shares campus space with Malibu High School. Staff and students from some of the affected classrooms will be moved to nearby Juan Cabrillo Elementary School as well.


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